Up to eight people will be able to stay overnight at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s (SYFR) Headquarters, on Eyre Street in Sheffield, this winter – with British Red Cross volunteers on hand to welcome them.
This is thanks to a partnership between various agencies – including Sheffield City Council, British Red Cross, Framework and South Yorkshire Police – and comes into action when the council activates its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol when the weather gets very cold.
Known locally as Weather Watch, the scheme offers somewhere safe and warm for rough sleepers.
Area Manager Tony Carlin said: “Helping people in need and saving lives is core to our mission as a fire service, so it makes perfect sense for us to provide emergency accommodation during particularly severe weather periods.
“This initiative provides comfort, warmth and shelter for rough sleepers and the homeless and is a clear example of public agencies working together to help some of the most vulnerable people in our area.”
Anyone who is homeless, or at risk of losing their accommodation, can call Sheffield City Council on 0114 273 6306 during office hours, or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours.
When Weather Watch kicks in, SYFR will be opening the doors at ‘Central Headquarters’ on the coldest nights at 9pm and places are allocated by contacting Sheffield City Council on the numbers above or by calling into First Point at Howden House.
Staff at HQ will link people up to the Council’s Out of Hours Service when places are full, so that warmth and shelter can be found elsewhere.
Richard Crow, British Red Cross emergency response officer for South Yorkshire said: “We have responded to a request from Sheffield City Council alongside South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to support at this scheme providing emergency shelter to the homeless in the city. British Red Cross volunteers and staff will be on hand to provide practical and emotional support, including the provision of hot food and drinks, and signposting service users to longer-term support where needed.
“The Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours across the UK, working with partners to help people in crisis.”
If you’re worried about someone sleeping rough please call Framework on 0800 066 5358 or Text SOTS to 80800 followed by your message, or visit www.streetlink.org.uk. You can also call the Weather Watch numbers on someone’s behalf (0114 273 6306 or 0800 7311 689 outside office hours) but please do this when you’re with the person so they can provide extra information.
Councillor Jim, Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety at Sheffield City Council, said: “The fire station gives us extra places for people at risk of sleeping rough on the coldest nights, and is somewhere safe and warm.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the fire service and the British Red Cross, and all their staff and volunteers, for working with us on this.
“Homelessness is a growing problem and extra duties placed on councils means increased demand for services. But through this partnership work we’re able to offer more help to more people, which is what we want as a city.”